Last year at this time, I had a wonderful time helping Whale Branch High School head coach Rob D'Amato build the Warriors' new football program.
This time around, I'm having another wonderful time offering to help new Battery Creek coach Jim Shuman rebuild a Dolphins' team that didn't win a game last season.
I was recently at Shuman's first staff meeting as he prepared for spring practice. Before the meeting began, I found out Shuman has added two coaches I think will help the Dolphins succeed: David Fess, who was Beaufort High School's offensive line coach for 10 seasons, and Josh Brister, who is back at Battery Creek after coaching at Whale Branch last season.
I've known both coaches for several years, and I would have hired both of them if I were a new head coach. Fess will be the Dolphins' defensive coordinator, and Brister will be the receivers coach.
I met another coach for the first time, and it was like looking in the mirror. Harry Sprouse, who is the Dolphins' offensive coordinator, has coached for 45 years and is an ol' option dinosaur like I am. He reminds me a little of Penn State coach Joe Paterno.
I was impressed when Shuman talked to his new staff. From my perspective, one of the most important things he talked about was asking the staff to help players academically as well as athletically. He also talked about staff loyalty, which he feels is the most important part of having an ideal staff.
I totally agree. In my book, "I Believe in Cream, Apples and Football: Thoughts for Coaches," I wrote about the importance of staff loyalty. From my perspective, loyalty is the ultimate measure of character.
As the meeting ended, I passed on two important thoughts. First, Battery Creek has many kids who play football, but only a few football players. Developing football players is a challenge for all coaches. And second, coaches need to help players develop mental toughness, because the thoughts in their hearts and minds are more important than their athletic ability when it comes to creating a successful team.
On Monday, I attended the Dolphins' first spring practice. It was extremely well-organized and reminiscent of the first spring practice when I was coaching college teams.
During individual position drills, I had the pleasure of working with three young quarterbacks. I especially enjoy teaching young quarterbacks how to run the option, so I was excited with Shuman began installing the split-back options he plans to use.
The ol' option dinosaur jumped in to tell the quarterbacks that their eyes are more important than their athletic ability for making good decisions and the best decision-maker becomes the starter. I told them another important thing to become a starter is to coach yourself. Coach yourself by listening to the quarterbacks coach and talking to other quarterbacks. I told them when they put their heads on the pillows at night, they should review everything they learned at that day's practice.
Coach yourself like a coach.
From what I've seen so far, Shuman will give them a good example.